Mike Hallatt has been a professional Trader Joe’s reseller for five years. Founder of the store Pirate Joe’s (or Irate Joe’s), Hallatt and his employees drive to Seattle, buy hundreds of dollars worth of groceries and then smuggle it over the Canadian border.
Like all resellers, Hallatt slightly marks up the original prices, but as Canada currently doesn’t have an official Trader Joe’s store, Pirate Joe’s is most Canadians’ only option — and they’re clearly happy to have it. When the store opened in 2012, it only stocked 250 of Trader Joe’s best-selling items; now it stocks an insane 1,600 products, and buys $7,000 worth of groceries every week.
But not everyone is happy with Hallatt’s business model. Trader Joe’s has banned him from the store — he now resorts to hiding his identity with various costumes, and hiring professional shoppers for him — but it has also tried to bring him down in the courts. The resell store, which has the motto “Unaffiliated. Unauthorized. Unafraid.,” has been in a legal battle with Trader Joe’s since 2013, which Pirate Joe’s describes as a “David Vs Goliath” situation.
Resellers should be paying attention to Hallatt’s court case. As Pirate Joe’s writes on its flyers, “if this guy loses the right to sell his stuff, you could lose the right to sell your stuff.” In the above interview, Hallatt says that he hopes his case will be an “opportunity to set law for the little guy, to establish unequivocally that an individual has the right to resell anything they own.”
Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to have happened. In early June, Pirate Joe’s reached a settlement with Trader Joe’s and announced on Facebook that it would be closing its doors for good. Now, according to its website, Pirate Joe’s is open for business once again, though for how long remains to be seen.
To find out exactly how Pirate Joe’s runs its business, watch part one and two of our documentary above.
In other news, Michel Gondry has shot a short film entirely on an iPhone 7 Plus.